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Robert Richardson Education. (2013) 2013 Key West Literary Seminar Robert Richardson, 'In Search of Lost Time Biography and Fiction.'

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Us 4, Phyllis 3, Graham 2, Brenda Wineapple 2, Mickey Mantle 2, New York 2, France 2, Etc. 2, Judith Thurmond 2, Fulani O'connor 1, Gordon 1, Xan Mayle 1, Whitman 1, Jules Michelet 1, Doll 1, Wb Yates 1, The Bible 1, Yankees 1, Brodsky 1, Colm Toibin 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Robert Richardson  Education.  (2013) 2013 Key West  
   Literary Seminar Robert Richardson, 'In Search of Lost Time...  

    January 20, 2013
    12:15 - 12:40am EST  

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to cry. make him run commands the general. run, run. the boy runs. sensible pack of hounds on the child. the hounds catch him and tear him to pieces before his mother's eyes. that is it. like i said, i am sorry. ivan goes i then goes on to explain how other may indeed be an all-powerful benevolent god and may indeed be a future of harmony achieved through human suffering that even if this is so and of course it is far from being a sure thing ivan says he would personally reject any harmonious conclusion that requires the suffering of that 8-year-old. -doesn't say there is no god. he just says that if his plan for us involve such horrors he cannot and will not accept it and hands back the ticket.
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i was 18 when i first read this and my younger brother john had just died a short three weeks after being diagnosed with acute leukemia. for me then he had it right. and this fictional encounter had more influence on my life than all the condolences and families of port in the world. i loved reading it and i quickly found myself a king for help in everything i read. i like ron scanned anna karenina for his devil may care attitude towards paying bills. he throws them all in a drawer and he sits down to pay them three times a year. i learned that the telephone company did not appreciate his point of view. still, with or without the bill
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paid brodsky's life is more vivid than mine and more vivid than the lives of my friends. and he seemed as real as any character in a biography. and so it was with the book. i fell in love with small boats and sailing through swallows and amazons. my friends and i learned cool from holden caulfield and the catcher in the rye and of course there is poetry. i had more than one teacher whose religion was elliott's four quartets. and the learned attitude from yates and from the greek anthology. we wanted to come proud open night and laughing. and i love this epitaph of any change greek sailor. in a greek anthology translation from a wonderful teacher. tomorrow the wind will have fallen. tomorrow i will be safe that harbored. tomorrow i said and death spoken
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out little word. oh stranger this is the nemesis of the spoken word. fight back with daring tongue i would say tomorrow. we marveled at the ability to imagine what it would feel like to be a billiard all rolling across the pool table. we hungered for lives that had emotional range of shakespeare's sonnets and if we were going to be saved we knew it would be by literature. there was the french historian jules michelet who put it is for me as i tried in my mid-40s to turn biography to life writing. history he said, and you could think that he meant to include fee and fiction, history he said is not narrative. it is not analysis. it is resurrection. i think this is some of what
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brenda wineapple has in mind by recovering but how you do it is another and more complicated matter and i will not try to get into that this morning but bringing your subject back to life is a great and worthy goal. so if i may quickly wrap up, to ezra pound's excellent advice to make it new i think we might also want to add and make it live again. [applause] >> we seem to be running a little early so we have time for some questions. >> it's not a question but a huge appreciation to you and what you just said. thank you very much.
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>> all right, that's sweet. [applause] >> i think i am scoping myself with a question i want to ask you in ossetia next weekend but why not seize the moment? the first time i ever saw you in met you was 2003 in boston. i think it was the 200th birthday in effect of ralph waldo emerson. a book of whom you have written an absolutely marvelous book. but the gathering of historians critics and writers and the whole gang appreciating emerson from a whole variety of angles and lo and behold you stood up in the middle of this meeting and you said i am bob richardson
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and i just wrote this book just for the record you wanted it known that you don't analyze and many don't see him a starkly and you don't do chemical tests on the paper or his soul. you said i take him straight. i have read him as -- and when he says trust thyself you can admire the line and run it through any number of test but you said i think you are telling me to trust myself. and follow the beam of light in your own mind etc. etc. etc.. it seems to me that cuts through a lot of the stuff we have been talking about in hearing about this weekend in the sense that you know when all else fails we can take these --
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it's an extreme remedy but it's possible. [laughter] they do talk to you. thank you. [applause] one more. >> this is the most moving one that i have her. i have read all the books that you suggested. do you have any other wonderful suggestions of books that you should read? [laughter] >> if you have not read them all again read my wife's books again. annie dillard. american childhood. [applause] nice, thank you. [applause] >> up next from the 2013th key west literary seminar in florida
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a panel called "how far can the facts take us?." pico iver colm toibin julie salamon and rosalind brackenbury sit down for about an hour. >> good morning key west. i am christopher the straight man to the stars and i hope the readers friends. what a pleasure this weekend has been. time is running out. we can see the end that we have got a lot of work to do. in not going to talk about the posted topic exactly but these people can be -- i have three topic sentences i want to be sure we get to and i will throw them out right now. one has to do with the fact that we haven't spent enough time on the biography and there are lots of them. i think you are fern yesterday
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to the three volumes on robert crossed her much people are still rehabilitating him. i think of the actress claire bloom's book and i always wonder what in the world would tempt a person to declare war and made book form against philip roth but in any event. it was the hero worship thing book and then when he found one of his own books signed and ascribed he founded in the used bookstore. he had shed from his library and he wrote a scathing piece and examination of mentorship. then along came patrick french's book and he was authorized and made the book look like a blood no. tomatoes gives the question of some of the more obscure and personal baby and neurotic
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appropriating motives to draw a writer to write about another writer. i would love to know what the pros feel about it. secondly more here about writers in this group in this long meeting i keep thinking you know there are other artistsonsciouse tradition and conscious of the craft and conscious of the heroes but think of architects for example. architects have their own hierarchies. he was an undiscovered genius and he was ruined by drink or whatever. they'd definitely have the sense of inheritance and a relationship. centerfielders have it. i asked harold bloom one time what is the difference between stephen's relationship to walt whitman and johnny damon's relationship to mickey mantle in the new york yankees centerfield
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or mickey mantle's relationship to joe dimaggio in that centerfield? talk about anxieties of influence. he said there is no difference at all. the question is simply what is it about writers to think of these other professions. plumbers too probably thinking about joe blow on ninth street could really really make that sitting etc. or so-and-so couldn't. but i wanted to begin with my touchdown phyllis rose's observation. he was teasing me after the session. she said what is this? it's all guys. it's all guys talking about guys. and i thought this is a moment to repair it partly because we had to guys and dolls writing about other women won in the
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form of fiction and one in the form of biography. but phyllis opened the question with what is this thing about guy writers getting into the lives of other guy writers? i want to know first of all from the ladies perhaps what about ladies getting involved in ladies lives? judith thurmond had mentioned before she wrote about call at it was gloria steinem who had said go for it. we need some stories of these people. would you get us started? i looked at two things. what our female writers doing in these other women's lives and then what do you see the guys doing and a big playpen of literary biography? >> well, first of all i'm so excited to be called a doll at
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this time this morning after having -- every single night here. i guess that's a girl thing. [laughter] actually brenda and i walked over here this morning and you and i talked about this a little bit yesterday. we were talking about how it's interesting and not meant as a criticism but an observation that when the guys talk about -- not all but many talked about their work comp had they talked a lot about their own background and what brought them to this and why they wanted to do it in great detail. although it's incredibly interesting that but when the women talked about their work comp that they tend to talk about the work or the person they are writing about and i started to think is this just a coincidence or is this a male-female after butte.
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i was thinking about it a lot in terms of wendy wasserstein when she wrote her play. there i go again, right quick that has been my up session and thinking about it in terms of her life when she was at the drama school for plays were dismissed by the powers that be because they were not of interest because they were not about big issues. they were about domestic issues and it's sort of like somehow when a man writes about their uncertainties about their manhood or about facing the world for their internal angst it's interesting and psychologically meaningful and can change the world that when but when a woman does it she is being a whiny woman. [applause] that is what happens first thing in the morning. [laughter] and you?
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[laughter] >> i was thinking about the valley in france. there's a sign that they're saying feminist republicans successor is on the wall. i thought okay i think i said the other day that it's a vulnerability that you kind of come across someone who is going to give you help in a way. and so i think it was the size of her life and the variety of it. the political commitment. the involvement with the policies of the day in france. and also herself as a mother and a grandmother. she just did everything. it was a time in my life when i felt incapable of doing anything so i think that is why i
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probably focused in on her as people have said and i had read. the topic tends to come and find you. but i didn't want to write about it myself so i write fiction for that reason. so the topic yesterday about having something hidden in a novel which you probably don't want people to know comp had i think a fiction writer circles around the thing which i found very fascinating. there is always something that you don't want to be upfront about. i think it's maybe being english and i think maybe it's being a woman and i think maybe it's a certain age. when i first came to this country i couldn't believe the memoirs the people wrote about themselves.
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so fiction -- >> meaning what? >> they are so up front about all the terrible things. it's okay in america to go on about oneself. [laughter] i was brought up not to. i also have a question which i want to kind of slide in this morning. i admired her for more her life than her fiction because a lot of what she wrote is -- she did have to make money and she did have to sell but she was very successful and some of the things she wrote were more interesting and the centuries than others. but it was the life i think in the fact that somebody who went out into the streets of paris wearing pants at an age and a time when people didn't do that. she had lovers and wrote for a living, who was politically involved and all that i found very impressive. i'm currently writing about
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another dead french president. >> all well taken. i just want to make a note and two remarks that were mentioned just this morning. one from brenda wineapple about the job of recovering in a biography. and i thought now of course everybody is doing that in a certain way that men would not quite say that. it's about recovering something and similarly phyllis rose's books saying women go to these women's lives or two men's lives to or to married lives to find out how to live. we are researching how to live but again i don't think most male writers would say that. why are you studying its? i want to know how to live. it's a little to what? i don't know. >> i would say that is why we can't go into the female lives.
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of course the point of being a writer is to travel imaginative leg across genders and history but you have to acknowledge that there is going to be a sexual charge. if you you are i write about colin it there is no way we can do it the way judith thurmond did. what i'm really doing is saying what about him is like me? how can he train a search light into the dark that i might not otherwise want to look at its? if i'm writing first i would have to call it fiction and secondly i would be thinking what she like me? would call at like me and how is that going to change things and how can i possibly be objective? interestingly enough there are two women deliberate about him wonderfully. one of them is surely howard one of new york's accomplished -- the great fire is one of the great books of the century but when she writes about green she
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turns in a cute eye on him but also you feel she was repelled by him in certain ways and a level in which they didn't get along. she writes again and again the one thing missing is -- and anyone feels that is the main quality. such tenderness towards other characters but she could never in real life -- and then look at gloria emerson a war correspondent. she wrote one novel and her life. it was called loving graham green and it was about a woman who met graham green once and instantly took ms or beacon and her at her life and her conscience and start praying to him and sending letters and kissing the letters before she sent them to him. spent more time thinking about him than her own friends and family. they were positioning themselves in a different way inevitably because of the difference in
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gender but thinking about is he attracted to me and am i attracted to him? you or i might not think in those ways. >> i just want to mention that stay until next weekend. there is a glorious lineup of female autobiographer xan mayle autobiographer's and two biographers fulani o'connor one male and one female but also gordon who has written about thinking about the women in henry james lives but also about virginia woolf and emily dickinson and there are more coming. your turn colm -- colm toibin about the boy games and the girl games and the gender games and this whole landscape of biography. >> bad like to say two things about. lady gregory i wrote a short book about lady gregory who is
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worn and 1864. i'm sorry 1852 and died in -- she is perhaps best known living in the shadow and being the founder of the theater of wb yeats. every time she mentioned it is in terms to her relationship to others whom she helped. my book is called lady gregory's toothbrush. an unfortunate letter. her handwriting was dreadful. she is very rich and rich people tended to have very bad handwriting i found. she said it was about the riots in the abbey theatre and the people are writing again at the new play. it's the old battle is and is between those of us who use a toothbrush and those who don't.
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[laughter] the interesting thing i think if you are writing about anyone especially if you're writing about of women born sometime before the 20th century is to look at the struggle. look at the amount of self -- that she was offered and the first 40 years she was so dutiful and so careful and so ready to be in the shadows. her translations for example of a poem with the favorite poem and the english language. it came to translation only through an immense amount of dutiful slower which no one could do. they despise the language but she decided to learn it. wb yates did not do that. soot and her --
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she begins as a translator. if you were to say did she not waste those years and know they were wasted for her. there was only one book in the house, the good book, the bible. just to emerge a constant fixture of extraordinarily -- including saying one time at the abbey theatre is always a mistake to argue with a woman. they always break down and cry and get hysterical. she somehow was not a woman and there were times she pushed herself very far and other times when she was always ready with pressure on to move into the shadow and disappear and get involved in every type of self suppression and of course then she kept secrets. she was very good at that. she never told anyone.

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